(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Health, healing, and faith.."





~— rs-S-^-L-o- 



Lr- 



fKealth, ^Healing 
and tyaith 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



http://archive.org/details/healthhealingfaiOOconw 



Health, 
Healing, and Faith 



Effect of Environment 

How a Church Was Built by Prayer 

Healing the Sick 

Prayer for the Home 

Prayer and the Bible 



By 

RUSSELL H. CONWELL 



VOLUME 8 



NATIONAL 
EXTENSION UNIVERSITY 

597 Fifth Avenue. New York 



Effective Prayer 



Copyright, 192-1, by Harper & Brothers 
Printed in the United States of America 



FOREWORD 

That prayers are answered nearly all the 
human race believe. But the subject has 
been beclouded and often made ridiculous 
by inconsistent superstitions. 

This book is a modest attempt to clear up 
some of the errors. Its record is as ac- 
curate as impartial observation can make it. 
God is not bribed. Laziness cannot bargain 
with him. But the prayers of the righteous 
and of repentant sinners availeth much. 

Desired ends are gained by prayer which 
cannot be gained by any other method. 
The daily experiences of devout persons 
establish that fact conclusively. The reasons 
and the methods which produce the results 
seem hidden, and they often bewilder the 
investigator. God's thoughts are far above 
our thoughts. But we can trust our daily 
experience far enough to retain our con- 
fidence in the potency of prayer. It is, 
therefore, a profitable and comforting study. 
Russell H. Conwell. 



Effective Qrayer 



I 






EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

*«? 

Chapter I 

Effect of Environment 

THE fascinating history of events con- 
nected with the Baptist Temple, Phila- 
delphia, through thirty-nine years must be 
recorded carefully to obtain the credence of 
those readers who live out of the locality. 
It may or may not be that the unusual 
demonstrations of power, seemingly divine, 
were not incited or influenced by the special 
environment. Yet the critical reader may 
reasonably inquire where these things oc- 
curred in order to determine the power of 
association on the form and effect of prayer. 
The Baptist Temple is a somewhat im- 
posing building on the corner of North 
Broad and Berks streets in Philadelphia. 
It is located almost at the geographical 



2 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

center of Philadelphia, and eighteen square? 
north of the City Hall. The Temple is 
architecturally very plain, and the beautiful 
stained-glass windows are about the only 
ornaments in the great hall save, of course, 
the pipes of the great organ. The church is 
one hundred and seven feet front, and is one 
hundred and fifty feet in length. There is 
a deep gallery occupying three sides, with a 
chorus gallery, back of the pulpit, seating 
one hundred and fifty singers. There are 
three thousand and thirty-four opera chairs 
arranged in a semicircle, and every person 
in the congregation can see clearly the plat- 
form and chorus, and each normal worshiper 
can be heard from the pulpit. 

The building itself is a testimonial to the 
effectiveness of sincere prayer. The Temple 
and the halls in the lower story, as it now 
stands, are far beyond the dreams of that 
little company of earnest worshipers who, 
in 1880, hesitatingly and embarrassed, began 
to build the small church at the corner of 
Berks and Mervine streets. They had no 



EFFECT OF ENVIRONMENT 3 

wealthy or influential friends. They had 
but little money or property; they could 
pray, and that they did do unceasingly. 
Any man who tries to describe or explain 
fully how it came about that the Temple 
was built becomes bewildered in the com- 
plications, unless he covers the whole ques- 
tion by saying, "The Lord did it." In six 
years after the small church was completed 
the Temple was begun on Broad Street. 

For seven or eight years after its con- 
struction the Temple was a Christian Mecca 
to which pilgrims seemed to come from all 
parts of the earth to kneel there in prayer. 
One Good Friday night, which was ob- 
served quite generally as a season of fasting 
and prayer, the writer entered by the side 
door the Temple at two o'clock in the 
morning, and in the dim light of two small 
gas jets, always left burning, he saw scores 
of people scattered through the church. 
Why that church had such a fascination for 
or preference with earnest seekers for the 
prayer-answering God none may explain. 



4 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

All were kneeling separately in silent prayer. 
As they passed in and out there were in the 
line, going and coming, Chinamen, Euro- 
peans, Orientals, and Americans from distant 
states. Different denominations, Protes- 
tant, Catholic, Jew, colored and white, were 
often represented among the individual 
worshipers. They also came any night in 
the week at any hour and prayed silently for 
a while and then went silently out. The 
church was not locked, night or day, for 
fifteen years. People sought the place when 
they sought to find a locality which was 
especially near to the Lord. It may be that 
any place is as near to God as any other; 
and many think it only a sentiment, super- 
stitious and foolish, to esteem one place 
above another in matters of effective prayer. 
But there does stand out the fact that, for 
some good reason, our Saviour did choose 
to pray in special localities, and his devout 
followers do now feel more deeply the soul's 
communion with God in certain favorable 
places. Why the Baptist Temple had such 



EFFECT OF ENVIRONMENT 5 

worship as a sentimental matter brings for- 
ward the facts that the graves of the loved, 
the home of childhood, the trysting places, 
the old fireplace, or the churches where 
sainted parents worshiped are influential 
because of the suggestions which come with 
sacred memories. That fact is a strong 
agency in the awakening of tender and 
sacred emotions. But the Baptist Temple 
was new and could lay claim to none of 
those associations. Men and women with 
no religious habits, and some seemingly 
without devout inclinations, testified de- 
cidedly that whenever they visited the 
building they felt that they had entered 
into an atmosphere of special spiritual and 
sacred power. One soldier of the English 
army wrote an interesting letter in 1897, 
saying: "I do not recall any such impression 
before. I went into the church alone out of 
curiosity to look at its architectural design. 
But the moment I entered the side aisle I 
felt an indescribable pressure which made 
me desire to pray. I hurried out to the 

8—2 



6 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

street to escape the solemn impression. But 
twice since then I have been in the audi- 
torium and each time some power seemed 
pressing me down to my knees." Whether 
that influence was the act of the Holy Ghost 
or not cannot be proven by any known 
formula of human reasoning, and hence it 
remains, as most of such questions do, a 
matter of faith. Some believe it was a 
divine presence which made itself felt there, 
and other good men do not believe the con- 
ditions were in any way unusual or un- 
natural. So many persons with uncon- 
trolled imaginations, and others with their 
mental faculties weakened or distorted, 
often reported the most improbable visions 
and absurd revelations. Such characters, 
half insane or wholly deranged, testified in 
favor of Jesus to his face, and such have 
ever been present since in every genuinely 
spiritual movement. They would do less 
harm, of course, if they should declaim 
against him. So it was, and is, at the 
Baptist Temple. Those inconsistent, de- 



EFFECT OF ENVIRONMENT 7 

ranged advocates of religion did often drive 
away permanently into the ranks of un- 
believers the most sincere investigators. 
But a calm review of the testimonies con- 
cerning the occurrences which followed so 
clearly the petitions they offered in the 
Temple seems overwhelmingly to establish 
the claim, now held by so many thousand 
people, that the results of the prayers were 
but a cause and natural effect, as the prayers 
and results were infallibly related. 

It is not claimed here, however, that the 
place had more influence with man or 
Christ than other places have had, or that 
any church or cathedral may be as sacred 
as'Gethsemane or as the Mount of Trans- 
figuration. The plain facts are recorded 
here with great caution and with a deter- 
mination to keep conservatively within the 
truth and draw no unreasonable conclusions. 
It is a true statement, known to all the 
community, that many thousands of people 
have sought to pray in the Temple, believing 

that the boon their hearts desired would 
2 



8 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

be more sure to be sent if they asked for it 
within the Temple walls. Many persons 
have attended the church services on the 
Sabbath who have been so deep in prayer 
that they were unconscious of the music or 
the preaching. We must reassert that this 
fact is not recorded here to sustain any 
idea that the Temple is a sacred place 
above many other churches, cathedrals, and 
holy places, but to sustain the opinion that 
there are places more sacred than others to 
certain people, and that burdened hearts 
and minds would act wisely if they sought 
some such place when the answer to their 
prayer seems especially vital. 



fftow a. Ghurch 
Holds ZBuilt 
by Qrayer 



II 



Chapter II 
How a Church Was Built by Prayer 

IN 1886 the small church at Mervine and 
Berks streets in the northern section of 
Philadelphia was crowded at every service. 
Children were turned away from every ses- 
sion of the Bible school, and tickets were 
issued a week in advance for the preaching 
services. The idea of moving to some larger 
place was discussed, as it was impossible to 
enlarge the building where it stood, because 
of the streets on three sides. Under those 
circumstances the people began to pray. 
A voluntary committee canvassed the small 
band of church members, asking each to pray 
for an opening to a larger work. It is often 
thought to be an easy thing to promise to 
pray for a person or for a cause. The 
promise to pray is too often made care- 
lessly, and disinterested auditors often feel 
relieved of all responsibility when, instead of 



10 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

a collection, they are let off with a request to 
pray for the advocated cause. But a sincere 
promise to pray for a cause carries with it 
the sincere purpose to work and to give self- 
sacrificingly. To say, "We do not ask for 
your money, but only that you pray for us," 
is a half -hypocritical request, because a real 
prayer can ascend only from a soul intent 
on doing. To agree to pray is a hearty 
promise also to do all in one's power to work 
with the Lord. Only the hearty worker can 
really pray. "The people had a mind to 
work," said Nehemiah, and God, seeing their 
zeal, responded to their appeal. The Lord 
answered in a way absolutely unforeseen. 
The salvation of the world cost a great 
sacrifice, and everywhere we see the results 
of a mysterious law that some must die 
that others may live, and that real happiness 
is ever gained at the cost of suffering. 

A little child in Philadelphia opened the 
gates of the Temple by going down through 
death. She had been unable to get into the 
overcrowded Bible school one Sunday, and 



BUILDING A CHURCH BY PRAYER 11 

she began to save her pennies to help secure 
some larger place. Little Hattie May Wyatt, 
living in a home near the church, was 
chosen of God to convey his answer to the 
pleadings of that church. How little could 
the afflicted parents realize what a great 
work their sweet, prattling Hattie was to do 
in her short life. When the sweet, pale face 
lay in the coffin amid the flowers and tears, 
her pocketbook, containing fifty-seven cents 
which she had saved, was handed to the 
minister. She was the messenger of Christ 
on earth before she became one in heaven! 
That fifty-seven cents was a sacred treasure, 
and at the next church meeting prayers went 
up to God, asking direction how to invest 
the first gift toward the larger accommo- 
dations. Providentially, the subject of the 
Scripture text was the narrative of the little 
child with his five barley loaves and two 
little fishes (John vi). What can Christ do 
with the gift of a little child? What can 
the spirit of God do with the seed of an oak? 
One patriarch led in prayer and earnestly 



12 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

asked the Lord to "take these few pennies 
and build for us a temple." There were some 
in the assembly who, like the disciples at 
Galilee, said, "What can this little supply 
do among so many?" But the most part 
seemed inspired by the Holy Spirit with a 
faith that was immovable. The Lord then 
put a thought into the mind of Mr. John 
Baer, who owned a lot of land on the corner 
of Broad and Berks streets, to suggest to a 
member of the church that, as the people 
needed larger quarters, they ought to buy 
his lot and erect there a larger church. Mr. 
Baer did not know then that the church 
had ODly fifty-seven cents and that the 
church bulding they then occupied was still 
heavily mortgaged. Another church mem- 
ber heard of Mr. Baer's remark and, with the 
assurance of a faith unshakable, told Mr. 
Baer that if he would take fifty-seven cents 
as the first payment he felt sure the church 
would purchase it. Mr. Baer (a devout 
man) said that he would cheerfully accept 
the terms and that he would also not only 



BUILDING A CHURCH BY PRAYER 13 

give back the fifty-seven cents, but would 
contribute one thousand dollars toward the 
first payment on the lot. 

The church then purchased the lot and 
held another prayer meeting to determine 
the second time what to do with the Wyatt 
fifty-seven cents. It was unanimously de- 
cided to organize a "Wyatt Mite Society" 
to invest the money. There were to be 
fifty-seven children in the society, and each 
was to invest one of the pennies so as to 
secure the largest possible amount for the 
new church. It seems almost miraculous 
that wherever a child tried to sell the 
penny not one would buy it after hearing 
the story, but nearly all did give a liberal 
donation. One lady gave fifteen hundred 
dollars. Finally, the pennies all came back, 
were put in a coin frame, and kept as a 
sacred souvenir. Then joyful enthusiasm 
seized upon the people and hurried them 
along in many different enterprises for rais- 
ing money. One Sabbath the pastor was 
overpersuaded to exchange with Doctor 



14 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

Pierce of Mount Holly, and the joyful 
people presented the pastor, on his return, 
with a subscription list of ten thousand 
dollars. But to that account the practical 
and critical business man can answer that 
in any enterprise enthusiasm, hard work, 
and economy secure success almost in- 
variably. So that even the matter of rais- 
ing one hundred and nine thousand dollars 
by a people, all poor, industrious persons, 
may not be absolutely convincing to the 
skeptic who questions the personal inter- 
ference of God in answer to the call of his 
children. But there was another phase of 
the history of that campaign which seems to 
be absolutely unaccountable on any other 
hypothesis but the direct and special inter- 
ference of superhuman intelligence. 

The number seven! It is called "a 
sacred number"; but why it has been 
credited with its peculiar significance is, 
perhaps, the effect of its mention so often 
in the Bible. The various theories, reason- 
able and fanciful, for the sacredness of the 



BUILDING A CHURCH BY PRAYER 15 

number seven need not be rehearsed in a 
record of simple facts like these which this 
account preserves. But the daily appear- 
ance of the number seven in the evangelistic 
history of the Grace Church through the 
five years and two months before the large 
Temple was completed has never been ex- 
plained by any solution other than by 
accrediting it to some power or law above 
the normal. The "five years' meetings" 
were only the usual meetings of the small 
church and no evangelistic or unusual en- 
deavors were used, nor were any special 
methods tried. Evangelists of noted power 
sometimes addressed the church or gave 
sermons at the church in connection with 
some convention or association, but none 
of those instrumentalities seemed to affect 
the answers to the prayers of the people. 
The church sessions were simple, prac- 
tical, social, and fully democratic. But 
the prayers were full of faith and feeling 
and were brief and direct. One evening, in 
a meeting held in a small basement room, 



16 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

there were seven young people, strangers to 
one another, who stood up at the invitation 
to confess Christ. Each one stated that he 
had come under a strange and irresistible 
impulse unaccountable to him. Each asked 
the people to pray for his soul. That was 
the opening of the continuous stream of 
seven new converts each week for five years. 
That repetition of the number seven was 
not especially noticed until it had been re- 
peated through several weeks. Then the 
people began to expect it, and during the 
active enterprises connected with the build- 
ing of the new Temple it had a powerful 
effect on the courage and faith of that small 
company. As the years came and went with 
no change in that weekly number of fresh 
seekers after God, a feeling of awe held the 
worshipers to such an extent that when the 
seventh man or woman arose to come for- 
ward a deep sigh passed through the con- 
gregation. Sometimes the leader of the 
meeting paused or asked for "the hesitating 
one" if the full number did not at first 



BUILDING A CHURCH BY PRAYER 17 

appear. But there was no prearrangement 
and no attempt or purpose to cease giving 
the invitation to confess Christ after the 
number seven had been reached. The 
church was too deeply impressed with the 
seeming miracle to undertake any experi- 
ments with it. Continual prayer was all 
that was attempted. People ceased to ask 
their acquaintances to come to the meetings, 
and the usual revival methods were omitted. 
Real prayer, sincere singing, and a short 
comment on some verse of Scripture made 
up the usual order of services, aside from 
the regular preaching on Sunday. 

Various explanations of this mysterious 
and systematic manifestation of some hid- 
den spiritual force have been advanced by 
students of the unusual occurrence. Some 
undevout friends have rested satisfied with 
the belief that it was only a coincidence 
or an accidental repetition of a natural 
phenomenon. The skeptic said that there 
was no mystery about it, as it merely "hap- 
pened so." Others, more devout, declared 



18 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

that the people must have habitually "let 
go of their faith" when seven appeared, 
and that according to their faith "was the 
limitation of the numbers/ ' Others be- 
lieved that it must have been, consciously 
or unconsciously, arranged by persons man- 
aging the meeting, and not a few outsiders 
regarded the statement of the facts as a 
clear falsehood. They said it could not 
have been possible, and that there was 
surely some deception in the arrangements or 
reports. But the hundreds of intelligent and 
conscientious people who were present week 
after week became fully satisfied that it was 
the work of the Divine Spirit sent in answer 
to their prayers. Some of the circum- 
stances connected with that large accession 
to the church will be of interest to the 
student. 

During the years when the building was 
being constructed many simple schemes were 
devised by the people to raise money for the 
work. But prayer was a part of every en- 
deavor. Fairs, suppers, and concerts were 



BUILDING A CHURCH BY PRAYER 19 

often used to raise funds, and, although a 
worldly spirit often creeps into church en- 
tertainments, there came there a devotional 
spirit which seemed to transfigure every 
work. The devotional meetings held in a 
side hall when the church fairs were going 
on at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia 
ever had the same startling result — the un- 
changeable number, seven, came out for 
Christ. One evening a specially large num- 
ber of citizens were at a dinner given to 
arrange plans for securing the money for the 
first payment to the contractor who was 
laying the foundation for the Temple. A 
visitor, in his speech, said that he had been 
more interested in the "steady revival," of 
which he had heard, than in the feast, and 
that he was quite disappointed to learn that 
for the first time in three years the church 
had omitted its weekly prayer meeting to 
give place to a dinner. Thereupon, Deacon 
Stoddard, a devout man and full of the 
Holy Ghost, arose and suggested that be- 
fore the guests left the table the presiding 

8—3 



20 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

officer should give the usual invitation for 
anyone to arise and declare his decision to 
follow Christ. After several eloquent and en- 
tertaining speeches on general topics the invi- 
tation was given for the religious confession, 
and, to the amazement of many, just seven 
young men arose. A deep, spiritual emo- 
tion filled the hearts of all present. In two 
or three instances the number was less than 
seven who responded before the benedic- 
tion was pronounced, and some said, "The 
spell is broken." But in all cases another 
seeker after God appeared before the people 
left the room. Men, in those cases, rushed 
to the platform and called for the attention 
of the company to say that they dared not 
go home without openly confessing before 
the people their need of the Saviour. In 
several instances persons were too much 
overcome or too timid to stand out before a 
public meeting, and they persuaded some 
one sitting near them to get up and ask 
prayers for them. But there was no pro- 
longation of any service and no outlay of 



BUILDING A CHURCH BY PRAYER 21 

money for exhorters or singers. Naturally 
that remarkable condition attracted a throng 
of people, and before the Temple was opened 
the church and Sunday-school rooms at 
Mervine and Berks streets were crowded 
beyond endurance. 

At the first great prayer meeting held in 
the Temple when the call was made for con- 
verts the number who came forward was 
seventy-seven. From that time (1892) 
there has been no resumption of a regular 
number of seekers. Often the number 
seven, seventy-seven, forty-nine, and sev- 
enty appear in the number of those who 
arose for prayer or in the list of those who 
were received at the same time into the 
church. At one Easter service two hun- 
dred and seventy-seven were baptized. 
But those "five years' revivals'* stand out 
as five most beautiful years in the memory 
of the thousands still living who recall them. 
All of that company of believers prayed, 
and on those stormy days when the curious 
crowd were kept away the people drew to- 



22 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

gether in sincere devotion, and the most 
dreary days without were the most happy 
within. God seemed more reachable and 
the domestic sweetness of the church home 
was much more fully appreciated when the 
snow shadowed the panes, when the wild 
storms beat on the doors, and when only 
earnest worshipers ventured out to church. 
For more than fifteen years three thousand 
tickets of admission to the regular church 
services were taken up several days in 
advance, and when a very stormy day 
kept many ticket holders away special and 
repeated prayer was made especially for 
them. The effect of those stormy days of 
special prayer was one of the most remark- 
able experiences of the church life. Letters 
came in great numbers from different parts 
of the world, saying that they missed the 
services, but felt decidedly impressed to 
send for some needed information or for 
special religious advice. 

Many cathedrals, churches, homes, and 
charity halls have been built on prayer and 



BUILDING A CHURCH BY PRAYER 23 

faith, so that the construction of the Baptist 
Temple, on a prominent corner of Phila- 
delphia's widest street, in the heart of the 
city, by a few poor people, may not seem 
strange. Yet the fact that God has pros- 
pered other enterprises is only a confirmation 
of the theory that God answered the prayers 
of Grace Church in giving providential as- 
sistance in the construction of the Temple. 
^Yhen the church voted to go on and pay 
for the lot and build a church to seat over 
three thousand in the upper auditorium and 
two thousand in the lower hall, there was no 
money in hand or pledged. Yet there was 
no recklessness, no tempting God in their 
faith. When the contracts were entered 
into with the builder, or the furniture manu- 
facturer, provision was made carefully for 
any contingency. If for any unforeseen 
reason the great building had been unfin- 
ished at any stage of construction all bills 
would have been paid. But each advance 
in the work was made after special prayer 
over each division of the building enter- 



24 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

prise. The foundation was constructed 
after special prayer, then came the walls, 
the roof, the carpenter's inside work, the 
painting, the furniture, and the organ — 
each being the object of prayerful considera- 
tion. There were a few instances, however, 
which are worthy of special mention. 
There was a point when the contract for the 
stone for the walls was held up by the quarry 
proprietors, as they feared to venture on so 
large a job with no guaranty but a mechan- 
ic's right of lien. At that time a new sav- 
ings bank was opened at Columbia Avenue, 
two squares from the Temple, and President 
Cummings, head of the bank, offered to 
assist the church in any safe way. How he 
came to know of the proposed work, or what 
special reason he had for helping a people 
with whom he was not personally ac- 
quainted, was never explained. But he was 
a noble citizen. His influence was itself a 
powerful aid in all the business of the church. 
One day a stranger (General Wagner, presi- 
dent of the Third National Bank) was driv- 



BUILDING A CHURCH BY PRAYER 25 

ing by the half -constructed church when an 
" impulse " seized him to go into the building 
under construction. He was a Presby- 
terian elder and a stranger to all the mem- 
bers of Grace Church. He was a great man 
of business, a person of unflinching in- 
tegrity whose coolness in emergencies and 
whose conservative management of finan- 
cial institutions made him a trusted au- 
thority for private, for city, or for national 
finances. In a few words of conversation 
with the contractor in the building General 
Wagner was told that the church was being 
built "by faith in prayer." He told 
General Wagner that thus far "every pay- 
ment had been made promptly, with noth- 
ing left over." From that hour the general 
was a strong, unmovable friend and backer 
of the Temple enterprise. The Tenth 
National Bank and its offspring, the Colum- 
bia Trust Company, and the Third National 
Bank, of which General Wagner was presi- 
dent, were ever safely used as a reference, 
and often tens of thousands of dollars were 



26 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

loaned by them to the church for short 
periods. The trustees and the deacons of 
the church were prayerful men of stable 
common sense and successful in their own 
labor or business. There was no foolish 
overpiousness, no loud professions of re- 
ligious fervor, but a determined trust in 
God's promise to heed the call of those who 
loved him. 

Mr. John Little, a Quaker by inheritance 
and training, was a leading mind in the 
affairs of the church and was for many years 
the treasurer of the Temple University. 
He was a quiet, keenly modest man, but 
living a transparent truthfulness and hon- 
esty which commanded the confidence of all 
who knew him and secured for him a love 
that can never die. He said that he had 
two special places for prayer, one being in 
the Temple and the other on the street. 
Mr. Charles F. Stone (whose wife, Mrs. 
Maria L. Stone, continued his work after 
he died) was the treasurer of the church 
at the critical period and was a man en- 



BUILDING A CHURCH BY PRAYER 27 

dowed with excellent business ability and a 
devout man full of good works. He, too, 
had a "good name" which was rather to be 
chosen as a financial recommendation than 
great riches. These men are not mentioned 
because of their special claim to attention 
above the others associated with them, but 
simply as two specimens of the prayer- 
making company who moved on unhesitat- 
ingly, yet carefully, in doing the thing which 
many declared could not be done. The 
weekly reports from the committees and in- 
dividuals showing how God had raised up, 
unexpectedly or strangely, friends of the 
undertaking, often caused a deep feeling of 
awe and sent the people out with fresh de- 
termination to work cheerfully on. 

A single instance of the many hundreds 
reported will probably answer the in- 
quiries of others now engaged in some like 
work. Looking back upon the incident 
after thirty years the plan or the purpose 
of the divine leadership, so hidden then, 
becomes reasonable and clear. Why the 



28 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

Lord wished to use only three hundred men 
out of Gideon's great army was not under- 
stood at the time, but all can see now that 
the purpose was to bring the Lord's hand 
into vision and win for him the recognition 
which would have gone to the human army. 
Only once did the people of the Temple 
falter and their prayers seem ineffective. 
Only once did those Philadelphia worshipers 
limit their faith. But that one period of 
doubt came when the question was sud- 
denly thrust before the church whether they 
would try to put in a suitable church organ. 
Many claimed that they had reached the 
utmost limit of sacrifice. Some said that 
the church ought to be fully satisfied if 
they could buy seats for the first services. 
Others strongly declared that after all the 
asking of God and man for aid to build the 
Temple they could not expect either God or 
man to help them to buy an unnecessary 
organ. Through thirty-eight years the 
church has never had any quarrel to settle 
in all its history, and that division of opinion 



BUILDING A CHURCH BY PRAYER 29 

did not assume an angry or excited phase. 
It was simply a feeling in some of the people 
that the Lord had done wonders and that, 
now that the church was out of the wilder- 
ness, it was full time to let the people and 
God's providence rest. When the question 
arose whether the church should venture to 
purchase a suitable church organ it was 
decided by a large majority that it could not 
be undertaken. The small minority were 
Gideon's three hundred. One member of 
that small body asked the church for the 
privilege of putting in the organ, "if he 
could raise all of the ten thousand dollars 
needed without asking a contribution from 
anyone who had already given or sub- 
scribed toward the building." Even that 
conservative offer was accepted by a re- 
luctant and small majority. 

Then that member began a downright, 
heart-stretching wrestle with the Angel of 
God. He spent two successive nights in the 
Temple in hard and tearful prayer. He had 
nothing to give. He must secure the whole 



30 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

from others. He pleaded with God to let 
him work with Him in awakening the hearts 
of possible givers. But the Lord was not 
willing to give to man the major part of the 
glory of success. The murmuring people 
must be made ashamed of their lack of faith 
in the Lord who had safely led them thus 
far. The contract for the organ was made 
with a company whose agent said they 
usually sold their organs on faith, but that 
churches always paid the cost and often 
paid in advance of the date when the notes 
matured. The purchaser of the Temple 
organ did not feel authorized to put in the 
organ with no money in hand, at least for 
the first installment on the price to be paid. 
But all the men he approached refused to 
give because it was "overdoing it," and was 
"too improbable* ' for credence or assistance. 
But the purchaser did not waver. The 
time set for the payment of the first fifteen 
hundred dollars came. The note the pur- 
chaser gave was due on Monday. The 
debtor had asked the Sunday-morning 



BUILDING A CHURCH BY PRAYER 81 

prayer meeting to remember him especially 
"on the morrow." He had until three 
o'clock Monday to raise the money to save 
his note from protest. He had written to a 
relative to ask for a loan of fifteen hundred 
dollars, but the letter had not been sent to 
the mail box. When he entered his room 
just before church services a working girl 
who was a member of the church came 
quietly to his door and handed him a letter 
in which, when he opened it, he found a 
check for fifteen hundred dollars. The let- 
ter and check were signed by a laboring man 
in Massilon, Ohio, who wrote that he had 
not been asked to give anything, but he had 
heard that the church "hoped soon to get 
an organ.'* He felt impressed to send this 
check and to ask the church to accept it 
on the condition that, should he ever be 
reduced to actual need, the church should 
endeavor to aid him in some way. The 
second payment due came as an unexpected 
draft from Boston for five hundred dollars, 
which must be honored or refused within 



32 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

three days. But in the same mail with the 
notice of the draft came two money orders 
from the executor of an estate in California, 
saying that the deceased testator had left 
the distribution of certain sums to the dis- 
cretion of the executor and he had decided 
to send five hundred dollars toward "the 
music in the new Temple. " 

The third payment was met by funds 
raised by solicitation, about which there 
seemed to be nothing remarkable. Other 
payments were made by gifts clearly sent in 
connection with the appeal of the believer, 
but the last payment was the most unac- 
countable of all. Three one-hundred-dollar 
bills were pushed under the door of the 
church study by some one never discovered, 
and a certificate of mining stock worth seven 
hundred dollars was sent from Butte, 
Montana, without other signature except 
that on the face of the certificate. The 
blank for the purchaser of the stock was 
blank. Public efforts were made to find 
the givers, but without success. Well 



BUILDING A CHURCH BY PRAYER 33 

might the people feel that the voice of the 
organ was the voice of the Saviour. 

When the organ was dedicated ami 
Dr. D. D. Wood led the devotion with in- 
spired fingers and sightless eyes the churca 
congregation was a beautiful sight — like a 
sea sparkling with tears. When the great 
chorus was singing the hymn, "God movei' 
in a mysterious way his wonders to per- 
form," a large number of the singers were so 
choked with emotion that they ceased tc 
sing and Doctor Wood said the event waj 
one of the most thrilling in all his experiences 
with choirs. 

/These are "the simple annals of the poor," 
but they illustrate and inculcate great prin- 
ciples which are applicable to any work for 
the Lord. 



^Healing the Sick 



III 



8-4 






Chapter III 
Healing the Sick 

THE health and happiness of mankind 
depend in a great degree on faith. 
Every emotion of the body and every action 
of the mind is an exhibition of faith. Per- 
sons who believe they are well, even if they 
are ill, will soon recover, and persons who 
believe that they will not be sick are seldom 
ill. There is no department of human life so 
dependent on belief as that connected with 
health. Millions would arise, take up their 
couches and walk, if they could be made to 
believe that they could do so. To believe 
a falsehood has cured many people, and 
consciences waver between the duty to tell 
a patient the clear truth when he is very ill 
and to make him believe a lie in order 
that he may get well. 

It must also be stated, in fidelity to the 
truth, that the subject of healing by faith 



HEALING THE SICK 35 

has called out a host of the half-insane 
classes who proclaim with trumpet tones 
some cases of divine healing which are un- 
worthy of a moment's consideration. Hence, 
out of a collection of possibly sincere letters, 
many have been rejected altogether as 
foolish or misleading. Eleven hundred writ- 
ten testimonies to cases of healing in direct 
answer to prayer at the Baptist Temple 
have been carefully examined and the 
trustworthy testimonies tabulated. Those 
"years of healing" to which reference is so 
often made were years of prayer and years 
of faith. After deducting all the question- 
able cases, and after a wide allowance for 
the naturally health-giving and health- 
preserving power, the normal human belief 
is that there remains an overwhelmingly 
convincing amount of evidence that healing 
is directly brought about by sincere prayer. 
Through several years cases were reported 
to the church or pastors which convinced all 
who knew the people and the circumstances 
that some intelligent power, higher than 



36 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

human knowledge, had interfered to heal 
the sick. But when the knowledge of those 
trustworthy cases came to be known, and 
especially when they had awakened much 
excited comment, then the "cranks'' and 
monomaniacs crowded to the front and 
vociferously proclaimed the most absurd 
miracles, to the disgust of reasonable men 
and women and greatly to the damage of 
the beneficent work. 

Sometimes all references to healing were 
omitted in the pulpit and shut out from the 
meetings for prayer until the wild advocates 
of divine healing settled down and dispas- 
sionate views could be taken. Many in- 
telligent devout men repudiated the whole 
experiment, believing that the excitement 
over it was doing much more harm than 
good. But the larger part who saw the 
people who had been cured by the unex- 
plainable means were steadfast and went on 
sincerely thanking God for his wonderful 
works among the children of men. 

A digest of the written testimonies showed 



HEALING THE SICK 37 

that cataracts had unrolled without the 
touch of a surgeon's knife, although the 
greatest number of the restoration of sight 
to the blind were with the aid of apparent 
means. The methods by which the Lord 
restored their sight did not make their 
gratitude to him for restoration any the less 
commendable. Mysterious and evidently 
dangerous internal tumors disappeared 
slowly or suddenly in a manner unexplain- 
ab!e by the most learned physicians. 

By far the greatest number of the eleven 
hundred cases selected for consideration out 
of the multitude of testimonies were cases 
in some way directly connected with the 
nervous system. Patients long confined in 
an insane asylum were brought home and 
cured of what had been considered hopeless 
insanity. There were many cases of various 
forms of brain diseases, while in all these 
cases a specially conservative examiner 
could declare that they might have been 
cured by the special or wise treatment. 

Yet, even if such were the case, the devout 



38 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

man who prayed may claim that the treat- 
ment was only a part of God's healing plan. 
It was often declared publicly and without 
any contradiction that for long seasons there 
was not one person ill in bed in the more 
than one thousand homes represented in the 
membership of the church worshiping in the 
Temple. Usually health reigned in the 
entire church, and it was reasonably claimed 
that in five years more than six hundred 
cases of lung and throat trouble were per- 
manently healed. Epidemics afflicted the 
city, and, quoting Doctor Haehnlen, it was 
declared that "the Angel of Death had 
passed over the congregation, taking none." 
Of course the people believed that if they 
went to the Temple to pray for the recovery 
of their friends they would surely be favor* 
ably answered. Many have, however, writ- 
ten that if that condition of faith could be 
secured in the doctor, nurse, and family, that 
spirit of hope would be naturally aroused 
in the patient and aid greatly in the re- 
covery. But the men who pray can say 



HEALING THE SICK 39 

with greater confidence that in every case 
it was, at least, God working with man. At 
all events, the general health of the congre- 
gation must be far better than would have 
been the case with the same people if they 
had not gone to church and prayed. 

Hundreds of men and women live on in 
health and vigor who were in that congre- 
gation at middle age thirty-five years ago. 
Their strength "is not abated," although 
some of them were invalids thirty years ago. 
The healing force of a cheerful faith is 
everywhere acknowledged to be a health- 
preserving agency of vital importance in the 
establishment of public health. It is a 
vital necessity in thousands of individual 
cases. Such a condition is probably often 
a gift of God — through the influence of his 
suggesting and soothing spirit. Jesus healed 
many without resorting to miracles and 
seems to have ,resorted to the miraculous 
only to convince his hearers of his authority 
in divine matters. In some cases, as the 
woman who touched his garment, he claimed 



40 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

nothing for himself, but told her that her 
own faith had served her. 

Even the most ultra-conservative critic at 
the Temple who tried hard to see in these 
many cases of restoration only the "work- 
ing out of some natural law " confessed that 
if his child was sick he "would not dare 
to omit praying" for its recovery. The 
conclusion of the whole matter is in the 
settled conviction in the minds of nearly 
all the worshipers at the Temple that God 
does answer prayer for the sick. 



Qrayer for the 



IV 



Chapter IV 
Prayer for the Home 

ONE Sunday evening at the usual 
services the invitation was given, as 
is customary, for such persons who especially 
desired to be mentioned in the daily prayers 
of the people to rise for a moment before 
the singing of the last hymn. The sermon 
had not mentioned the need of prayer and 
contained no special evangelistic appeal. 
The invitation was the customary proceed- 
ing throughout the year. The three thou- 
sand seats were all filled. The audience was 
composed, as usual, largely of men, and 
they were men of middle age. There were 
young people, representing both sexes, 
scattered through the audience, and lines of 
them along the back rows of seats in the 
distant gallery. No attempt was made to 
emphasize the ordinary invitation in any 
special manner. But when the solemn 



42 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

moment came for the prayer-seekers to rise 
the response was so general that the preacher 
asked those who had risen to remain stand- 
ing until the pastors could see them and 
count them. There were over five hundred, 
and for a few weeks that was about the 
usual number of those who arose. 

But the preacher was especially startled 
by the fact which he had not especially 
noted on previous occasions, that the ma- 
jority of those who asked for prayer were 
young people. The scene, when those 
youthful faces appeared on every side and 
in so large a congregation, filled the soul of 
the beholder with almost painful awe. It 
led the preacher to meditate a moment to 
ask Christ and himself why so many young 
people took such a solemn, sincere interest 
in prayer at that time. The thought led 
him, before the benediction, to request all 
who had stood forth for prayer to write to 
him a personal and confidential letter ex- 
plaining why they desired to be mentioned 
in the prayers of the Christian people. 



PRAYER FOR THE HOME 43 

The letters came the next week by the 
hundred. It was an astonishing revelation. 
The letters from unmarried people were 
culled out of the collection and reread at 
leisure. Some of them were in need of 
higher wages; some were seeking for a 
personal religious awakening; some asked 
prayers for friends, for business, for safe 
journey, for health, or for other protection 
and relief. But out of two hundred and 
eighty-seven letters from those young people 
over two hundred mentioned, directly or in- 
directly, their strong-desire for a husband, a 
wife, or a home. The details of lovers' 
quarrels were opened up, the anguish of 
broken engagements expressed on tear- 
stained sheets of note paper, and many 
doubtful lovers wished the Lord would re- 
veal to them whether their choice had been 
a wise one or whether their love was deep 
enough for such an extremely important 
matter as marriage. The letters revealed 
such a general longing for a home that one 
seldom realizes is really existent. There were 



44 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

a few letters from young college women and 
university men. But the greater portion 
were from working girls. They were the 
most touchingly sacred records of the every- 
day thoughts of young women, all sincerely 
and modestly expressed. When those young 
women saw some handsomely gowned wife 
pass her desk, her counter, her bench, or 
loom, leading a bright-faced little son, the 
working girFs soul uttered an unvoiced 
shriek for a home, for a noble husband's 
protection, and for children of her own. 
Women waiters who daily fed the wives of 
wealthy merchants or of prosperous manu- 
facturers wrote how terrible was the thought 
that they were going to be homeless and 
penniless in their old age — one great 
prayer going up to high heaven for holy 
domestic love and a place they could call 
"home." 

After that evening's call upon the seekers 
after God to rise the request for letters was 
repeated. The answers which came even 
into thousands revealed the general request 



PRAYER FOR THE HOME 45 

for the leadership of the Spirit of the all- 
wise God in directing the all-important 
affairs of the heart. Some letters detailed 
the horrors of broken hearts; some revealed 
dark sins; and some told of betrayal or of 
base and traitorous ingratitude. But the 
majority were letters from lonely but up- 
right women of high ideals aud of noble, 
Christian life. Some of the communications 
were from conscientious young men asking 
God's help in deciding their choice or for the 
influence of God in their favor when their 
chosen one should make up her hesitating 
mind. Some were calls for Christ's forgive- 
ness and for human advice in most com- 
plicated cases where the writer had been 
misunderstood or where he had thought- 
lessly made a promise he must recall. All 
wanted a home. The honest souls standing 
out in the open before God, where the re- 
straints of human custom and the reluctance 
of a pure modesty were, for the moment, 
overcome, wrote out the sincerest prayer of 
all. Their soul's need was a home. 



46 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

Of all the holy ambitions of a normal man 
or woman the purpose to have a home is the 
highest. A home on earth and a home in 
heaven constitute the soul's chief est need. 
Around that transfigured word gather all 
that is highest and purest in human thinking 
and all that is most sacred and heavenly 
in human feeling. In the beginning the 
Almighty created man — "Male and female 
created he them." The first home was in 
Paradise. The last home will be there. 
He who has an income to maintain a house, 
who has an intelligent, unselfish wife, who 
can look about his table and see children 
with clear intellects and loving hearts, is 
conspicuously foolish if he does not see that 
he already has the best the world can give. 
She who can cast off all anxiety for main- 
tenance and can devote herself to the care 
and training of her own little ones, and who 
can respect and deeply love her chosen 
mate, has God's best gifts already in her 
possession. Gratitude to the heavenly 
Father will lead such recipients of his 



PRAYER FOR THE HOME 47 

richest bounty to forget not to aid those 
who have less. Nothing on earth of wealth, 
applause, or mundane wisdom can equal, 
in the least measure, the temporal and 
eternal values of a real home. Therefore 
it is wise and the mark of a godly character 
to pray heartily for a husband, or for a wife, 
or for children. 

A reasonable valuation of such domestic 
treasures makes a hideous crime of every 
violation of the laws and customs w T hich 
make a loving home possible. Profanity of 
speech, theft of money, or traitorous break- 
ing of any other contract is a light sin com- 
pared with the brutal sins of the libertine or 
the unchastity of the woman who sells her- 
self, or who, with evil intent, entices a man 
to home-breaking crime. So important is 
this matter that it is the fit subject for con- 
stant prayer for those who have not chosen 
to be a martyr or decided to give up all 
on earth for a home in heaven. And, even 
in the latter case, the call to take up any 
work inconsistent with the maintenance of a 

8-5 



48 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

home should be overwhelmingly emphatic 
to command obedience. 

Hence, those appeals to Heaven for do- 
mestic rest of soul were all normal and all 
of supreme importance. When that great 
collection of letters were each answered the 
reply contained a counter-request for a 
report in due season which should state when 
and how the prayer for a home had been 
answered. Those reports have also been 
carefully tabulated. But here again the 
critical adherent to the theory concerning 
the unchangeable laws of nature tries to 
escape any committal to religious dogmas 
by claiming that the mating instinct is an 
inborn sentiment common to fishes, beasts, 
and birds, and that mankind mates by acci- 
dental acquaintanceship or by the pressure 
of necessity or ungoverned passion. Such 
arguments convince many people who deride 
the claim that "marriages are made in 
heaven." But after every such theory is 
suggested and analyzed, after every allow- 
ance for the outworking of "natural selec- 



PRAYER FOR THE HOME 49 

tion," there is left an important place for 
the intrusion or domination of a superhuman 
power. To that fact, the simple, unvar- 
nished tale of the experience of the years at 
the Temple bear eloquent testimony. A 
book of this character requires that out of 
the many reports only the most representa- 
tive cases should be selected, and that the 
mention should be as brief as is consistent 
with clearness. The number of marriages 
which every church, small or great, brings 
about is ever the astonishment of any 
preacher who goes back over the history of 
forty years of church life. The church in 
any community is a center of more or less 
of social life and furnishes an opportunity 
for the best young people to meet on a 
plane of safe association. The married 
Christian people, and especially the owners 
of homes, are the very best people in any 
town or city. As a rule, all people pos- 
sessed of Christian character marry. The 
unmarried masses of the people, or those 
who are most often unhappily mated, are 



50 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

often the unstable classes who are not 
closely bound to moral principles. Religious 
life and home life are twin sisters. They be- 
long to the same family and have the same 
likes, dislikes, and motives. They are con- 
genial and necessary companions almost 
everywhere. 

Let us examine the leading events wherein 
we seem to recognize the divine hand and 
which led directly to the setting up of 
Christian homes. One lady clerk in a de- 
partment store, in her first letter asking 
for prayer, said that she was forty-one years 
of age and that she had been twenty years 
in the store. She said that she had hoped 
for a home all her adult life, but had aban- 
doned the hope and wished only to die soon. 
She asked if suicide would be wrong under 
such sad circumstances. The following Sab- 
bath morning, after the service, the pastor 
of her church incidentally introduced her to 
a widower of her age who had a comfortable 
house, but who had rented it because he had 
no children. The widower asked the pastor 



PRAYER FOR THE HOME 51 

a few days later to pray for him as he had a 
"very important matter" on his mind. 
Several days later he came to the minister 
and said that he had dreamed three times 
and in each dream he had precisely the same 
experience. He dreamed that he was climb- 
ing a steep hill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 
and he had called for help to a lady standing 
above him near the path, and when he took 
her hand he recognized her as the lady to 
whom the minister had introduced him. 
He declared that he really wished to set up 
a home again, but his first impression of that 
lady was decidedly unfavorable. The min- 
ister unreservedly advised the widower 
never to let a mere dream influence him to 
overcome his calm judgment. The minister 
said that dreams were often contrary to fair 
reasoning and should not be consulted in 
such important matters. A few days later 
the lady called on the minister to ask him if 
there was "any truth in dreams. " Then 
she greatly surprised the minister by saying 
that she dreamed several times that she was 



52 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

on a steep bank near a cousin's home in 
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and as the earth 
began dangerously to break beneath her 
feet a man caught her and supported her to 
the safe path. The mysterious thing in her 
story was that she recognized the man as 
the gentleman to whom she had been intro- 
duced that Sunday morning, but whose 
name she had forgotten. She said that the 
repetition of the dream "set her to think- 
ing," and she had called to inquire who the 
gentleman was and what trust could be 
placed in dreams. The minister was too 
surprised to declare again that no faith 
could be put in any dreams. The minister 
said nothing to her about his previous inter- 
view with the widower and let her depart 
with the remark that if the Lord intended 
she should marry that man the Lord would 
also speak to the man about it in some clear 
manner. The Lord never advises one party 
to enter into such a contract when he knows 
the other party is unwilling. In every holy 
marriage both parties are equally inspired 



PRAYER FOR THE HOME 53 

with the spirit of God and are both abso- 
lutely convinced that the Lord had brought 
them together. The minister soon wrote to 
the widower, advising him to call on the 
lady and tell her frankly that he desired to 
make her acquaintance with a view to a 
marriage, if both should be satisfied that 
it would be right. Every reader of this in- 
cident recognizes or feels the impression of 
the universal law of nature and can prophesy 
safely that they would marry. The minister 
was not present at the wedding, but he was 
informed by those who did attend the cere- 
mony that the bridegroom told the guests 
the history of their dreams and claimed 
that they were "obeying the voice of God" 
when they arranged for that marriage. 

The doubting persons who claim that the 
repetition of the dreams and the accidental 
meetings were singular coincidences that 
were in no way influenced by angel spirits, 
do have enough support to make the angel 
theory one of faith and remove the claim 
from the class of " scientific demonstrations." 



54 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

The facts related cannot be questioned. But 
the conclusions from those facts may differ 
widely and still be more or less reasonable. 

The mysterious attraction which leads the 
bird and the beast to choose their mates is 
of the same nature as that mating instinct 
which prevails universally among mankind. 
But man's reasoning power and his self- 
control make his choice of a wife a far more 
complicated matter. The healthiest, strong- 
est, and most intellectual races are ever 
those whose law r s and customs allow the 
greatest opportunity for unprejudiced choice 
in the selection of life mates. Intermar- 
riage of family relations, or the marriages 
within a narrow circle of the same race, ever 
produce weaklings and often idiots. In the 
lands where the parents arrange all the mar- 
riages there is but little progress and but few 
real homes. Wherever the parties refuse to 
be guided by the higher law of affinity, or 
by a recognition of Divine Providence, there 
w r ill seldom be found a real home. ^Af- 
finity " is an abused word, and is often used 



PRAYER FOR THE HOME 55 

to bolster up a bad cause or to excuse a cruel 
crime. But the close student of anthropology 
ever finds that the known natural laws do not 
account for every case, nor can a satisfactory 
solution of sex attraction in human affairs 
be found without admitting the mysterious 
aDd potent force that is only spiritual. 

Looking back over the marriage records 
of the Baptist Temple for thirty years, there 
appear some significant facts concerning 
home-making by prayer. Through those 
thirty years of the record-keeping there was 
an average of sixteen marriages a month, or 
five thousand and one hundred in thirty 
years. The same pastor who officiated at 
the marriage of the parents also, in many 
cases, officiated at the weddings of the chil- 
dren. Not one case of divorce can be dis- 
covered and only two cases of estrangement. 
The records of many praying churches prob- 
ably show the same conditions. 

But it is a sublime, soul-satisfying thing 
to meditate on such a great list of happy 
Christian homes. The searcher, when he 



56 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

notes the birthplaces of bride and groom, 
finds that they often come from the most dis- 
tant places and represent nearly all the 
races of the world. Calcutta united with 
New York, Iceland with New Orleans, 
Philadelphia with Chicago, Quebec with 
Quakertown, Worcester (Massachusetts) 
with Camden (New Jersey), Japan with 
Chester (Pennsylvania), Alaska with Colum- 
bia (South Carolina), country villages with 
cities, obscure daughters of prairie farmers 
with sailors on the Atlantic, millionaires' 
sons with working girls, and thousands of 
members of the church of all adult ages unit- 
ing with other members of whom they knew 
nothing in childhood. 

From the atheist's point of view he can see 
nothing in that history but a jumble of acci- 
dents or a snarl of events which cannot be 
untangled. But to the devout believer in 
the theory that God sends his angels to 
arrange the home-making as he did in the 
case of Rebecca and Isaac, that list of homes 
presents a sublime view of a system for the 



PRAYER FOR THE HOME 57 

kind distribution of Heaven's chiefest bless- 
ings. Out of the seventy-two hundred who 
united with Grace Church and its missions 
in the thirty years mentioned above all but 
twenty-nine have been married. As a home- 
making agency in the history of our nation 
the churches must hold the leading place. 

When the remarkable series of reported 
dreams became known and was being dis- 
cussed by the people, there arose many men 
and women with unbalanced minds who 
testified to the most inconsistent miracles 
in connection with their dreams. Among 
the letters which they sent in when testi- 
monials were called for there were nearly 
one hundred which related foolish and im- 
possible experiences and which made the 
whole debate ridiculous. But that uprising 
of those who were "possessed of evil spirits" 
did not prove that the one case so well es- 
tablished was not the work of an angel of God. 

There may be ten thousand dreams which 
are of no special value and which are 
caused by natural law. But God seems to 



58 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

use only one here and there for his special 
purposes. Thousands of seeds fall on the 
earth, but only one may be selected to grow. 
There were cases related where dreams were 
specially potent to the dreamers because of 
the suggestions made by the dreams to the 
waking minds. A dream is often very potent 
as a reminder, or as a caution, and is often a 
providential event used in God's plan, 
although the dreams in themselves may have 
nothing unusual about them. There could 
be no clearly remembered dream which did 
not have some effect on the thought and 
later actions of the dreamer. With that 
view many dreams need not have their 
origin in a special visit of an angel of God. 
But again we must believe that there are 
dreams in which the angel of God appears 
to man directly, and that such dreams are 
possible in any age of the human world. 
Each claim, therefore, to a revelation of 
God in a dream should stand alone and be 
accepted or rejected after a careful study of 
all the causes and effects. 



PRAYER FOR THE HOME 59 

The experiences with the Holy Spirit 
during those years of constant prayer should 
find a special place in this record. For 
there were devout souls who seemed to be 
constantly filled with the divine afflatus, 
and they surely enjoyed the peace of God 
which passeth all understanding. Here, 
again, we walk near a line that cannot 
exactly be located and enjoy emotions or 
inspirations which cannot be described. An 
all-pervading joy illumined every part of the 
human soul. "Where are you going so 
early this Sunday morning?" was often 
asked of the hastening pedestrian, and it 
was a common experience to hear him 
reply, "I am going to the morning prayer 
meeting in the Temple to meet the Holy 
Spirit." The Holy Spirit was there await- 
ing him. There were Pentecostal days — 
supreme hours of strange elation, seasons of 
heavenly bliss which cannot be accounted 
for on any psychological basis. A holy 
brooding of a sin-expelling spiritual atmos- 
phere permeated by a power like a perfume. 



60 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

It was an indwelling of the Spirit which 
carried a purifying fumigation wherein the 
worshiper simply let go of himself and 
rested in the arms of his heavenly Father. 
Many felt that sacred presence and could 
only express themselves in tears. Such 
Pentecostal visitations of the Spirit have 
doubtless come to thousands of churches 
and to millions of worshipers in other 
places, and this experience at the Temple 
is not mentioned as if it were an unusual 
thing where prayer is the habit of all the 
people. But it confirms the history of the 
visits of the Holy Spirit related in the 
Bible, and must be accepted as a proof of 
the fact that there is communication be- 
tween the spirit world and the world in 
which we live in the flesh. But these spir- 
itual conditions are so subtle, so elusive, so 
delicate, that it is easy to imagine that one 
is in that condition when perhaps he is not. 
It was so disappointing and perplexing to 
the sincere and reasonable Christian to have 
his communication with the Holy Spirit 



PRAYER FOR THE HOME 61 

disturbed by a wild-eyed and loud-mouthed 
"Holy Roller" or an advocate of "The 
Holy Ghost and Us Society" proclaim his 
wild theories and tell of the silly revelations 
which he claimed the Spirit had made to 
him. Some of those disturbers are now in 
the insane asylum, where they should have 
been before. 

Wherever God erects a house of prayer 
The devil builds a chapel there. 
And 'twill be found on examination 
The latter has the largest congregation. 

It is a marvel that the gospel of Christ has 
outlived its own advocates. The "cranks" 
who testified for Christ in his day were more 
harmful than were the same number of his 
open enemies. Because of them the people 
believed that Christ himself was a wild 
fanatic. The believer in Christ must try 
prayerfully and carefully to distinguish be- 
tween the devils and the angels of light, and 
determine by their fruits which claimant is 
possessed by the Spirit of God and which is 
controlled by the spirit of evil. 



Qrayer and the 
£Bible 



8-6 



Chapter V 
Prayer and the Bible 

THERE are three methods used dis- 
tinctively in the study of the Bible 
and upon each of them prayer has a clear 
effect. This fact comes out fully in the 
written testimonials received from the mem- 
bers of the church worshiping in the Baptist 
Temple. One individual may read the 
Bible as he would read any other book, and, 
consequently, finds it dull reading. An- 
other studies the historical references as an 
archaeologist or as the scientific specialists 
examine a rare specimen. To them it is a 
curious and strange collection of ancient 
manuscripts, and such a student finds 
amusement in the research. Another re- 
gards the Book as a miraculous revelation 
from God, and he handles the volume with 
reverent care and reads the statements it 
contains as he would a letter sent from 



PRAYER AND THE BIBLE 63 

heaven direct to him. Those three classes 
are found in almost every religious gathering, 
and it is an intensely interesting thing to 
observe at close range the various effects of 
prayer on such a congregation. When the 
leader of the prayer service approaches the 
Bible with the manner of a delighted seeker 
after truth, and, before opening the Book, 
leads the people in a direct appeal to the 
Divine Spirit for instruction and inspiration, 
the interest of the worshipers in the Book 
is especially awakened. When the leader 
prays fervently and with frank sincerity 
that the passages of the Bible to be read 
shall be illumined or be made alive with 
special meaning and new emphasis, then 
the Book will be an interesting volume to 
nearly all of the gathering. And when the 
leader is himself expecting a special revela- 
tion from that Book at that time his per- 
sonal magnetism combines with his manner 
to help the worshiper into a receptive, ex- 
pectant state of mind. The people then 
expect to hear "an important message from 



64 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

a most important person." The helpful- 
ness of those conditions anyone would un- 
derstand, as they are in accord with human 
experience in other gatherings. But the 
effect of the prayer in bringing to each per- 
son present a different message from the 
same verse puts the matter over into the 
realm of the supernatural. 

At one prayer meeting at the Temple, 
when a severe storm had cut down the at- 
tendance to a number under twenty, the 
prayerful attitude of all present made the 
session one of special spiritual illumination. 
The Scriptures were read with accuracy and 
natural emphasis, and then each listener 
was requested to state informally what was 
the chief lesson which the reading brought 
to him. Each person present received a 
distinct and helpful suggestion differing 
from the suggestions made to any of the 
others. It is that well-established fact, so 
often experienced, that makes the Bible 
a book unlike any other. In this, too, is 
shown the importance of persuading every- 



PRAYER AND THE BIBLE 65 

one to read the Bible for and by himself. 
It seems, however, to be universally true 
that when the Bible is prayerfully, intelli- 
gently read aloud each praying listener re- 
ceives some message of special importance 
to himself. While all that evening heard 
the same words from the same mouth, yet 
the circumstances of each life were different 
from every other; the experiences had been 
unlike, the inherited dispositions were dif- 
ferent, the meaning of the words was shaded 
by the variation in their home use, and a 
full allowance was freely made for those 
differing effects. But those considerations 
cannot, to the calm, critical student of the 
inspiration of the Bible, account for the 
special and mysterious messages which come 
to each participant in the meeting. The 
suggestions are often beyond the applica- 
tion of the law of "the association of ideas." 
They cannot be explained by any of the 
known psychological laws which seem gener- 
ally to govern the human mind. This ex- 
perience with the Bible is the best evidence 



66 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

of its divine inspiration. Archaeological, 
psychological, etymological, or historical 
analysis cannot establish the accuracy of the 
Bible so surely as that actual experience. 
The best proof is subjective. The secular 
argument that the Bible carries on its face 
the evidence that the writers were all in- 
spired by a "good motive" is surely an 
excellent reason for believing the Bible to be 
" inspired. " A holy motive, apparent in its 
wise communications, is clearly shown in the 
Bible. The etymologist who rests his case 
on the conclusion that the words "inspired 
by God" were formerly written "inspired 
by the Good," and that the "All Good" 
being is the ideal God, is not far from the 
safe definition. That does not in any way 
conflict with the theory that "all Scripture, 
inspired by the 'All Good,' is profitable for 
doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for 
instruction in righteousness." The com- 
plications into which the narrow theologian 
or technical philosopher falls when attempt- 
ing to reason about the Almighty often 



PRAYER AND THE BIBLE 07 

makes the study bewildering and unprofit- 
able. The testimony of the good and great 
through all the ages that every line of the 
Book is written with the unselfish purpose to 
do good is sufficient warrant for the common 
reader in concluding that it has some un- 
usual inspiration. 

The question was often discussed at the 
Temple whether it was safe after prayer to 
open the Bible at random and be guided by 
the first verse on which the eye rested. 
Some claimed that it was always safe to 
trust it. Others said that it was only occa- 
sionally that they found it to be reasonably 
instructive. Still others believed that the 
ascribing of such magic, or miraculous, 
power to the Book was clearly a form of for- 
bidden idolatry. But the majority of the 
praying Bible readers felt convinced that the 
selection of texts at random could not be 
trusted. Yet here again we find strong 
evidence that sometimes! the worshiper is 
directed to a particular record which seems 
to be selected by a divine mind. Again, it 



68 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

is wholly a matter of faith. The boy who 
asked his father for a silver dollar and 
found one in the road which some trav- 
eler had accidentally dropped, concluded 
that there was no design on the part 
of his father to give him the dollar. But 
when he found a dollar there the third time 
his conclusion that his father had placed 
all three of the dollars there for him was 
not unreasonable, but, nevertheless, erro- 
neous. So while the Lord surely has estab- 
lished certain laws or customs which seem 
permanent, yet he has the power and may 
change the laws or allow exceptions, and 
one cannot believe in prayer without be- 
lieving that such changes are sometimes 
made. It is a far greater strain upon hu- 
man credulity not to believe it than it is to 
believe it. The careful use of common 
sense in the interpretation of Biblical or 
unusual events, examples, and records of 
wisdom is ever the safe and sane proceeding. 
If one should pray for divine direction and 
opened the Bible at random to find the 



PRAYER AND THE BIBLE 69 

Lord's advice he should always examine the 
verse to see if its teaching or direction ac- 
corded with his petition. In a "call" to 
the ministry there must be a conviction of 
duty in the soul and also a road providen- 
tially opened to the would-be laborer. So in 
all the thousands of answers to prayer at the 
Temple there was found a conjunction of 
circumstances which showed that the worker 
was called by the same Lord who had a 
work to be done. 

The will of man is a strong force and is in 
itself an effectual, fervent prayer. The 
Lord prospers the person whose righteous 
will is decided, persistent, and uncompro- 
mising. The too-frequent consultation of 
Bible texts for hints or for direction shows 
a habit of doubt which is often a clear evi- 
dence of weakness. But in this, as in 
almost every other experiment, it is the 
consensus of opinion that the Lord does 
often inspire the Bible, especially for certain 
devout seekers, and that he inspires the 
soul with a keen, sensitive apprehension 



70 EFFECTIVE PRAYER 

and appreciation of the special revelation. 
The spiritually minded man or woman is the 
only one who can interpret a spiritual book. 
The chief value of the Bible is as a spiritual 
guide. It is the only book which explains 
the Creator's revelation to this world, and 
is the only one which gives a trustworthy 
description of the spiritual world. What a 
shadow would pass over the earth, and what 
destruction, devastation, and misery would 
be experienced, if, in one moment, all 
knowledge of the Bible were crossed out! 
Sane men who reverently pray lor the in- 
spiration when they read the Scriptures are 
the only safe guides to its sacred meaning. 
All who came to the Temple to pray seem 
to have been lead to the Bible at once, and 
thousands have learned to love it. To 
those who have prayed 1 ng over it it has 
become a continual feast.